Friday, July 10, 2009

Bee swarm capture

Our neighbor recently discovered a swarm of honey bees in a tree on her land. Chris and the kids were out camping that day, but fortunately I had an empty hive and a couple of fine helpers and was not only able to capture the swarm but got some great photos taken of the process!

The swarm was in a small tree and the neighbor didn't mind if we lopped off the whole branch. I felt kind of guilty topping the tree that way but it really was a great way to capture the swarm with few losses.

I approached the tree with the loppers and quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to cut the branch AND hold onto it at the same time but luckily my helper Stephanie was willing to do the lopping. Swarming bees are usually very docile so she was pretty safe doing so.

After we cut the branch I carefully lowered the whole thing into the hive. It was surprisingly heavy! I had placed a top bar with a honey comb on it from another hive into the new hive so that the girls would feel at home.

Next I cut off as many of the peripheral branches as I could so that I could close up the hive.

Then I added the top bars until it was shut tight.

I left the hive there for the rest of the day so that any remaining bees could find their way inside, then moved it over to our place that evening. The next day I pulled out the rest of the branch and let them make themselves at home. They were quite pleased and set about making new comb right away! I now have four hives and have harvested over four gallons of honey so far this season.


Danielle said...

You rock!

Schuyler said...

That's so cool! Someday bees will be more than just cat toys in our garden.